Impact of Diet Minerals on Milk Fat

Project entitled:

How the Mineral Profile of the Diet Influences the Milk Fat Content?

Édith Charbonneau, Yvan Chouinard, Rachel Gervais, Daniel Lefebvre, Gaëtan Tremblay, Alain Fournier


  • Research has shown that the synthesis of fat content in milk fat from cows at the beginning of lactation receiving a ration rich in concentrates is affected by the mineral profile of the ration, particularly stimulated by the addition of a source of potassium carbonate (K2CO3).
  • This research project therefore aims to:
    • Determine if the effects observed on production performance are due to an increase in:
      • K inputs;
      • the dietary cation-anion difference (DACA); or
      • buffering capacity;
    • Evaluate the effects of the addition of K2CO3 to acidogenic rations (rich in concentrates and vegetable oil).



  • Separate out the effects of the DACA, K content and buffering capacity of the ration on the biohydrogenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the rumen and milk fat content.
  • In high-producing cows receiving a ration rich in concentrates, verify the interaction between K2CO3 and soybean oil (source of polyunsaturated fatty acids) inputs on:
    • the rumen’s microbial populations;
    • the biohydrogenation of fatty acids; and
    • animal performance.


Results and potential benefits

  • The results of this study allowed us to verify there is a wide variability between cows from the same herd in regards to the ability of their rumen to resist rations rich in concentrates.
  • In addition, we observed that the addition of K2CO3 to the ration leads to modifications in bacterial populations, which then prevent rumen synthesis of fatty acids and inhibitors of the milk fat synthesis.
  • However, contrary to the results obtained by other research teams, the current experiment does not allow us to associate an increase in the DACA and/or potassium concentrations from the ration with an increase in the daily production of milk fats.
  • Lastly, this study allowed us to observe that the increase in K content through the addition of K2CO3 to the ration causes an imbalance that negatively affects animal production, specifically milk production.
  • Advances in scientific knowledge regarding the impact of the mineral profile of the ration on animal performance helps us to better identify feeding strategies that have a real impact on milk production and composition in high-producing dairy cattle.
  • The data collected also gives us a better understanding of the importance of the ionic balance of the ration on the mammary gland’s ability to produce milk.
  • These results will allow us to develop innovative nutritional strategies that, once integrated into feeding systems, will have significant economic benefits for producers.


Professionals trained

Angel Rene Alfonso Avila,  PhD candidate.


Financial contributions

Partnership for innovation in dairy production and dairy processing (EPI2011-2017):

  • Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies
  • Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec
  • Novalait

Centre de recherche en sciences animales de Deschambault